The Pharisees of the New Testament were the religious leaders of their day. They twisted the Law of Moses into a strict set of “can-do’s” and “can’t-do’s” instead of living by the word of the Lord. They made quite a show of their obedience to the Law and proclaimed themselves more righteous than other groups of people at the time. Did they aspire to these positions in society to gain favor and social status? It is quite possible. “Nevertheless, among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (John 12:42–43.) Is it any wonder that the Lord taught them about cleansing the inner vessel first?
When we receive a calling, we can think of it as the Lord asking us to fulfill an errand for Him. He knows the areas in our lives in which we need to grow, or the gifts or special talents we may have to help others within our circle of influence, then extends the call to serve. Sometimes we are called to organizations that make us uncomfortable at first. That is called growth. Those callings have a two-way benefit. One benefits our personal development, the other benefits the others around us.
When we desire a certain calling, it may be because it is something we sincerely enjoy and feel that we can be good at. I know there have been times in my life when I have struggled in service and felt that I had given the Lord a mediocre offering when I only wanted to give Him something worth having! However, I have come to understand that He doesn’t rate our finished product. He accepts the gift given from the heart.
Other times, do we desire a certain calling to feel that we are special, so others can see us and think highly of us? If that is the case, we would need to repent of our Pharisaical thinking and then humbly stalk off to primary with our tail between our legs!
When we desire a specific calling, we might compare it to telling the Lord, “I want to serve you, but I am only willing to do it in this capacity.” Not a very humble attitude, is it? If we seek solely for the honors of men and glory for ourselves, doesn’t that align with how Lucifer thought before he was cast down from heaven? In service to our Lord, we should only aspire to follow the Lord’s will.
In the second conference after which Elder Bednar was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he addressed an important point.
“To be or to become chosen is not an exclusive status conferred upon us. Rather, you and I ultimately determine if we are chosen. Please now note the use of the word chosen in the following verses from the Doctrine and Covenants: Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men. D&C 121:34–35.
“I believe the implication of these verses is quite straightforward. God does not have a list of favorites to which we must hope our names will someday be added. He does not limit “the chosen” to a restricted few. Rather, it is our hearts and our aspirations and our obedience which definitively determine whether we are counted as one of God’s chosen.” 1
I hope we can always serve the Lord with pure and humble hearts and be ready to choose our Father’s will in every circumstance.
1. “The Tender Mercies of the Lord,” Elder David A. Bednar, General Conference, April 2005